Addressing Plastic Pollution Challenge In Kwara
According to the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
In total, half of plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes, meaning they are only used once and then thrown away.
Available records show only a small amount of plastic was produced between 1950s and 1970s. As a result of this, plastic waste was relatively manageable.
However, between 1970s and 1990s, plastic waste generation was more than tripled, reflecting a rise in plastic production, a UNDP report said.
In the early 2000s, the amount of plastic waste generated rose more in a single decade than it had in the previous four.
Today, there is about 400 million tonns of plastic waste every year.
Regrettably, of the seven billion tonns of plastic waste so far generated globally, less than 10 per cent was recycled.
To reverse this trend, experts urge systemic change, that will stop the flow of plastic waste ending up in the environment. This change must be intentional, involving the efforts of all stakeholders in the environment sector.
Ranking as the 9th highest producer of plastics globally, Nigeria is, evidently, a significant contributor to the estimated 4.8 –12.7 million tons of plastics, which according to researchers, enters the ocean annually.
Plastic pollution in Nigeria is causing severe ecological problems with potential risks to human health; this is because Nigeria is estimated to generate about 2.5 million tonns of the waste annually; according to Emeka Dumbili and Lesley Henderson in a book contribution.
The contribution on: The Challenge of Pollution in Nigeria is part of a book entitled: Plastic Waste and Recycling: Environmental impact, social issues. Prevention, and solutions edited by Trevor Letche.
As plastic pollution appears to be exacerbating in Nigeria, it is, nonetheless, imperative to find ways to manage it.
It was in the light of this that the Federal Ministry of Environment on Jan. 13 placed a ban on single use of plastic in its headquarters as a form of waste management.
Towing the line of the government at the centre, Lagos State Government also announced the banning of usage and distribution of styrofoam and other single-use plastics across the state.
These and some other methods are part of ways to mitigate the effects of plastic pollution on our environment.
This action should, therefore, reasonably give an impetus to other states to align with the movement towards a clean environment across the country.
This is because flooding, one of the harms caused by plastic pollution, affected about 20 states in 2023 according to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet).
Similarly, Kwara, a state in the North Central Nigeria, had its bad share of experience with several lives lost and others rendered homeless as a result of the plastic pollution induced flooding.
This explains why concerned stakeholders agitated for a policy to check or manage plastic pollution in the state as this waste contributes to the blockings of waterways and drainages with the way consumers disposes them.
At a recent stakeholder’s engagement organised by Green Globe Initiative (GGI) on plastic waste management, its Executive Director, Mr Akintola Akinyemi, urged the state government to enct laws and establish policies on plastic waste management.
Akinyemi said there must be policy regulations and ecological sustainability consciousness for manufacturers as well as regulations for consumers.
The GGI chief said even if plastic production was to be banned, the number of plastics on the environment already can’t be evacuated in the next 10 years.
He argued that the best option was regulate the production and utilisation of single use plastic.
He said, however, that if the single use of these plastics were to be banned, there should be alternatives for people to use.
According to him, it is also imperative to integrate the communities like students on recycling of plastics which the initiative is already carrying out under the Craft and Plant Education Programme.
Corroborating the stance Dr Lawal Olohungbebe said plastic pollution in Kwara State was not merely an environmental concern, but impacts the health, economy, and overall well-being of the people of the state.
Olohungbebe is the Senior Special Assistant on Community Development to Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq
The success of these endeavours, he said, lies in crafting and executing policies that address this issue comprehensively.
The governor’s aide said five critical stakeholders among others in the plastics value chain have large roles to play in plastic policy formulation.
He identified these stakeholders to be the academia, regulatory bodies, manufacturer groups, as well as traders, distributors, and recyclers.
Dr Olohungbebe called for an actionable solution, saying the journey ahead required collaboration and commitment from all stakeholders.
Sharing the same sentiment, Mr Musa Aliyu, Director, Media Advocacy and Health Promotion Centre called for a national policy on plastic waste management in Nigeria.
He also advocated that education about plastic waste should start from primary schools and continue to adulthood.
Aliyu said the informal sector could play a major the role in curbing plastic waste through buy-back programmes.
He added that policies and incentives backed by robust enforcement targeted at producing companies to encourage polymer replacement and recycling would also go a long way in curbing this menace.
Mr Dare Abdulganiy, Deputy Director, Special Duty, National Orientation Agency, said outright ban of plastics would send lots of people back to unemployment market.
He said that regulation and mitigation off the effects would go a long way in riding the environment of plastic wastes.
Meanwhile Kwara government has begun moves to protect the environment and manage the activities of scavengers.
On Jan. 17 it commenced the distribution of Uniform Jackets with codes to scavengers for their proper identification across the state.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mallam Shehu Ndanusa, said this was to regulate the operation of scavengers in the state, to ensure the security of lives and properties of the people and also increase the revenue drive of the state.
As the residents of the state await Kwara government’s plastic waste management blueprint stakeholders say it was imperative for individuals to contribute their quota towards saving the environment.
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